HU-331 and Oxidized Cannabidiol Act as Inhibitors of Human Topoisomerase IIα and β

Chem Res Toxicol. 2018 Feb 19;31(2):137-144. doi: 10.1021/acs.chemrestox.7b00302. Epub 2018 Jan 8.


Topoisomerase II is a critical enzyme in replication, transcription, and the regulation of chromatin topology. Several anticancer agents target topoisomerases in order to disrupt cell growth. Cannabidiol is a major non-euphoriant, pharmacologically active component of cannabis. Previously, we examined the cannabidiol derivative HU-331 in order to characterize the mechanism of the compound against topoisomerase IIα. In this current work, we explore whether cannabidiol (CBD) impacts topoisomerase II activity, and we additionally examine the activity of these compounds against topoisomerase IIβ. CBD does not appear to strongly inhibit DNA relaxation and is not a poison of topoisomerase II DNA cleavage. However, oxidation of CBD allows this compound to inhibit DNA relaxation by topoisomerase IIα and β without poisoning DNA cleavage. Additionally, we found that oxidized CBD, similar to HU-331, inhibits ATP hydrolysis and can result in inactivation of topoisomerase IIα and β. We also determined that oxidized CBD and HU-331 are both able to stabilize the N-terminal clamp of topoisomerase II. Taken together, we conclude that while CBD does not have significant activity against topoisomerase II, both oxidized CBD and HU-331 are active against both isoforms of topoisomerase II. We hypothesize that oxidized CBD and HU-331 act against the enzyme through interaction with the N-terminal ATPase domain. According to the model we propose, topoisomerase II inactivation may result from a decrease in the ability of the enzyme to bind to DNA when the compound is bound to the N-terminus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cannabidiol / analogs & derivatives*
  • Cannabidiol / chemistry
  • Cannabidiol / pharmacology*
  • DNA / drug effects*
  • DNA / metabolism
  • DNA Cleavage
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Models, Molecular
  • Molecular Structure
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Plasmids / metabolism
  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Topoisomerase II Inhibitors / chemistry
  • Topoisomerase II Inhibitors / pharmacology*


  • Poly-ADP-Ribose Binding Proteins
  • Topoisomerase II Inhibitors
  • cannabidiol hydroxyquinone
  • Cannabidiol
  • DNA
  • DNA Topoisomerases, Type II
  • TOP2A protein, human
  • TOP2B protein, human